THOSE WHO WOULD PREFER a root canal over a squeeze into skinny jeans, take heart. Be they relaxed chinos or flowing denim, flattering and forgiving wide-legged pants are making a much-needed comeback.

Yet last season, retailers were pushing ultra-slim styles down consumers’ throats. What gives?

The change was strictly business, says Mauro Farinelli, co-founder of the Denim Bar. At national department stores, slender simply wasn’t selling. “The skinny leg was supposed to be a trend but ended up a fad,” he says. ‘So, designers put out wide-legged jeans. It was a complete addition mid-season.” A welcome one, apparently: His stores have nearly sold out of wider styles.

D.C. may not yet be fully cognizant of the style shift, however. Dr. Lucy Josey, coordinator of Howard University’s fashion merchandising program, says she hasn’t noticed billowing slacks on the school’s fashionable campus. “Students are just more into showing more body and skin at this point in the fashion game, and the wide-legged pant does not address that,” she said.

‘Most of my clientele are still wanting skinny and boot-cut,’ says Fabiana Zelaya, owner of Bethesda boutique Daisy Too. “Sometimes it just takes us a little longer on the East Coast — maybe come fall, wide legs will be the must-have.”

If you want to introduce width into your wardrobe, stick with the following tips. Otherwise, risk looking like badly dressed member of “The Brady Bunch.”

With a low rise and a flat front, these Alice + Olivia wide-legged wonders, at left, will flatter/flatten most tummies. ($275,

A classy-yet-cool wide waistband and two knife-sharp pleats make this wool-blend Alice + Olivia pair, at right, a winner for work. ($275,

» HEELS ARE A MUST: Unless you’re an Amazon, flats and wide legs don’t mix. Channel a ’70s folk vibe with cork wedges, or go disco glam with metallic platforms. Skip the stilettos — they won’t show.

» WIDE AT WORK: Think structured sailor pants, not boho bells. On top, try a delicate silk blouse or cropped blazer; conclude with classic patent-leather pumps.

» BALANCE IS KEY: Eschew flouncy tunics or baggy tees for a tight fit. “You want a sleek look all the way down, so find a top without a lot of fabric,” says Kara Alford, a D.C.-based image stylist with La Femme Wonderworks.

» WATCH THE WAIST: Though high-waisted flares can flatten a wayward stomach, the look works only on those with long torsos. Short-waisted gals with hourglass figures need not apply.

Written by Express contributor Ashley Joy Parker